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The best independent guide to Lisbon

LisbonLisboaPortugal.com

The best independent guide to Lisbon

The Principal Real district of Lisbon

Principal Real is one of Lisbon's most exclusive and affluent districts, which has led the artisan-chic transformation of historic Lisbon.

The once traditional townhouses have been converted into million-dollar apartments, and boutique shops and fine dining restaurants now line the streets. This rejuvenation of Principal Real has created one of the most desirable districts of Lisbon.

For visitors, Principal Real is a breath of tranquillity from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding districts. Principal Real is a district to slowly meander through, unhurriedly visiting the independent shops, admiring the characterful buildings and drinking a coffee in a cafe packed with locals.
This article will detail the highlights of the district, provide a walking tour and tips on how to get the most from your visit.
Related articles: The Baixa district - Bairro Alto district

Highlights of the Principal Real district

Our brief opinion: Principal Real may have fewer tourist attractions than other districts in Lisbon, but it is just a likeable place to wander and immerse in typical Portuguese daily life.

Exploring Principal Real

At the heart of Principal Real is the Jardim do Príncipe Real, a formal garden and popular meeting point for Portuguese.

The main avenue through the district has two names; the Rua Dom Pedro V to the east of the Jardim do Príncipe Real, and the Rua da Escola Politecnica to the west. Running along this street is the 24 tram route, and is where all of the historic sights are situated.

Insider tip: The 24 tram route is a great way to explore Príncipe Real. You can ride the tram uphill from the Chiado district (the Praça Luís de Camões) to the Museu Nacional de História, and then walk downhill through Principal Real back to the Baixa district.
Related articles: The 24 tram

Principal Real appartments

The traditional buildings in Principal Real

A walking tour of Principal Real

Below is a suggested tour of Principal Real and the Avenida da Liberdade, two of Lisbon's most exclusive and fashionable districts. The Principal Real section is marked in green, with the Avenida da Liberdade section highlighted in blue. The total route is 5.2km and takes around 3.5 hours to walk.

Note: The main area of Principal Real is between markers 3 and 11
Sights along the route: 1) São Roque church 2) Glória funicual 3) São Pedro de Alcântara garden and viewpoint 4) Pavilhão Chinês 5) Príncipe Real Garden 6) Patriarcal reservoir (Museum of Water) 7) Embaixada shopping centre 8) Convento dos Cardaes 9) Natural history museum 10) Jardim Botânico de Lisboa 11) São Mamede Church 12) Mãe d'Água reservoir (Museum of Water) 13) Amoreiras garden 14) Triunfal das Amoreiras arch 15) Marquês de Pombal plaza 16) Eduardo VII park 17) Heróis da Grande Guerra monument 18) Foz palace

Tourist attractions of Principe Real

Jardim do Príncipe Real

The Jardim do Príncipe Real is the focal point of the district.
The city garden is a favourite with the older residents of the Principe Real who come to drink coffee at the two kiosks, or gossip under the shade of the trees.

In the centre of the garden is a hundred-year-old cypress tree (a Cedro-do-Buçaco), with ancient branches spanning a radius of over 20m. On Saturday mornings, a farmer's market is held near the gardens (the Mercado Biológico do Principe Real).
Historical curiosity: In the 1740s, before Principal Real fashionable status, the Jardim do Príncipe Real was used as the rubbish tip for Bairro Alto.

Jardim do Príncipe Real tree

The Cedro-do-Buçaco tree, so peaceful and tranquil on a hot summer’s day

The Reservatório da Patriarcal

The Reservatório da Patriarcal reservoir is an engineering marvel, hidden below the ornamental lake in the Jardim do Príncipe Real. This octagonal-shaped reservoir resembles any grand gothic structure, with high vaulted ceilings and 31 stone supports.

The reservoir was constructed in 1864 to serve all of central Lisbon, and was supplied by the water from the Aqueduto das Águas Livres aqueduct.

The Reservatório da Patriarcal is open to the public on Saturday and Sundays and is free to visit.

Reservatório da Patriarcal

Inside the Reservatório da Patriarcal

There is a second reservoir (the Mãe d'Água) just north of Príncipe Real. This impressive building has an interior lined with marble, and its grand design means is often referred to as the "Temple of Water". The Mãe d'Água is part of the "Water Museum" and is worth visiting while in Príncipe Real.

Both reservoirs are fed by the Aqueduto das Águas Livres, and a section of the arches can be seen in the Jardim das Amoreiras gardens.

Close to the park is the Arco Triunfal das Amoreiras, a decorative arch of the aqueduct that crosses the Rua das Amoreiras.

Aqueduto das Águas Livres

The arches of the Aqueduto das Águas Livres next to the Jardim das Amoreiras

Embaixada shopping

Nowhere more exemplifies the artisan transformation of Lisbon more than the Embaixada shopping centre.

This high-end retail centre, which markets itself as an experience rather than shopping, and sells the finest products by Portuguese artists and designers. Expect to find unique pieces and chic fashion, but at prices that would shock most casual shoppers.

This high-end retail centre, which markets itself as an experience rather than shopping, sells the finest products by Portuguese artists and designers. Expect to find boutique gifts and high-end fashion, but at prices that would deter most casual shoppers. For details of the shops, see the Embaixada website: https://www.embaixadalx.pt/

Embaixada is housed in the decorative Moorish-inspired “Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha”, a mansion constructed by the Brazilian Ribeiro da Cunha in 1857. The interior retains many of the original features, and is worth visiting even if you are not that interested in the shopping aspect.

The Museu Nacional de História Natura

The Museu Nacional de História Natura is the natural history museum of Lisbon.
The museum is housed in the former science faculty of Lisbon University and exhibits the university's botany, geology and zoology collections. The collections are wide-ranging, and the classic science rooms are charming, and the museum is a worthwhile visit if you're interested in this type of museum. Admission is €5.00, www.museus.ulisboa.pt

Surrounding the museum is the Jardim Botânico de Lisboa. These peaceful gardens have numerous exotic plants, with over 1,350 different species, and an extensive collection of palm trees. The site belongs to the university, and the entrance fee is €3.

Museu Nacional de História Natura lisbon

The Museu Nacional de História Natura

Convento dos Cardaes

Hidden down a side street, and with a non-descript exterior, is the Convento dos Cardaes. It may not be much to see from the outside, but inside is a wondrous chapel, with beautiful tile paintings, detailed wood carvings and striking religious art.

The standout feature are the 11 tile paintings depicting the story of Saint Teresa of Avila that were painted in 1692 by the Dutch artist Jan van Oort.

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